My beliefs have been shaped a lot since a cockatoo named Tinker came into my life. He is 21 years old today - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TINKER!! He has been with me since he was three months old.
He is still a wild creature, being of the first generation removed from the wild and still with all of his natural instincts. I always thought what a great honor it would be to really know a creature from another species. I don't try to make him human because I want to know a bird. We sort of meet half-way.
Cockatoos are very astute at evaluating what is going on in the house and he knows english very well so that I have to be careful what I say to him and how I say it. He is not a talker in the sense of, say an African Gray parrot. He whispers things to me. Cockatoos can whisper, and his body language and the way he mimics behavior do the rest. Cockatoos are capable of a great deal of facial expressions, and every expression I make towards him I will find coming back at me at some point. We can easily carry on a conversation.
He teaches me things, like not to swat flies. Not because he is adverse to chasing and trying to catch them himself, but because swatting is violent. He is very opinionated. He also knows just how to run me and will, from my shoulder, grab my ear or cheek, using his beak as a hook, and guide me to whatever he wants, be it a look out the window, or something to eat or play with. He is fully flighted, as I believe that birds should be able to fly, but rarely ever goes after anything on his own.
As far as I am concerned he has nearly all of the rights of a human member of the household. There are times I have to overrule him on the side of safety, but otherwise we are together as much as we want to be during the day. I occasionally take him outside in the screenhouse or in a carrier, but it is cumbersome, and he hates the harness I got for him so he could go out on my shoulder. He is generally uncomfortable outside, due to the occasional hawk overhead, or screaming jaybirds or crows. So I don't worry about it too much.